Despite the city’s attempts to curb large unauthorized car events on the west side of the Seaplane Lagoon at Alameda Point, wimpy gates and lax security have not stopped abuses or muscle-car madness.
On October 19, 2021, the City Council voted to block off most of the auto traffic at the future De-Pave Park area. In November, yellow-painted concrete blocks were placed around the area next to the Seaplane Lagoon shoreline, which is intended for the quiet enjoyment of cyclists and walkers.
Barriers had already been erected in the summer to prevent reckless car spinning displays and drag racing in the adjacent area, after residents and business owners complained about the new unwelcoming atmosphere.
On Saturday, December 4, a large unruly crowd assembled canopies and took over the entire vehicle access area at De-Pave Park, speeding back and forth along the entry.
By Saturday, December 11, defiant car owners had cut the padlocked gate, drove into the no-car zone and were photographing themselves burning plumes of smoke off their tires. Other drivers, seeing that the gate was open, assumed it was OK to drive in.
A bystander called the police to investigate, who never arrived.
Almost an hour later, to add insult to this breach of tranquility was the attitude of an Alameda Point security patrol officer with
Allied Universal Security Services PACWEST Security Services. Just as the muscle-car boys all left in tandem, the security officer arrived, as if on cue. The officer drove right past the open gate, drove along the entire area that had been breached, and then started to leave.
When flagged down by the bystander, the security guard said she had not noticed anything wrong. After pointing out that the gate was open and cars were inside the off-limits space, the guard was unphased, saying she was about to end her work shift and that it was not her business to do anything anyway.
“I’m only supposed to observe,” said the unnamed guard. The bystander asked, “And what are you supposed to do with your observations? Can’t you ask people to leave and then close the gate?” The security guard emphasized that she was not supposed to do or touch anything, just observe.
Perplexed by the responses, the bystander asked the guard if she could at least make a report. She declined, saying the gate was up to the maintenance crew, and the security firm had nothing to do with it.
“What about the cars that are in this area that aren’t supposed to be here?” said the bystander. “Can’t you report it?” “No. We just observe,” the guard reiterated.
“So, if I tell the Mayor that the security firm at Alameda Point does not do anything about security breaches and does not even make reports, you’re OK with that?” asked the bystander.
“Umm, well, no, I will make a report,” said the exasperated security officer as she held up her cell phone.
Meanwhile, the perimeter area where cars are still allowed is strewn with trash on the ground and between the riprap boulders. And now graffiti is starting to appear on the shoreline boulders where drivers park.
Trash, including liquor bottles, is being tossed over the fence onto the federal property. And it’s becoming more common to see people walking on the shoreline in the federal wetland area, after having shimmied around the end of the fence.
The no-car area along the De-Pave Park shoreline, which was cleaned by volunteers in October, remains almost completely litter free.
The council, at its October 19 meeting, chose to allow vehicles to a far section of the area. Whether or not the council decides to revisit the car access, it is certainly time to revisit its contract with the security company. The City is paying good money for a security service that delivers little.